It’s almost Autostraddle’s own Babe-B-Q weekend! We’ll be hanging out with each other August 15 and 16 to grill up a storm, and everyone’s invited! We’ll also be guiding you through the process of grilling up said storm and getting prepared for the big event all week. You can view all Babe-B-Q posts here.
As you gear up for your Babe-B-Q’s this week, you’re probably wondering what to throw onto that sheet of slatted metal over a burning hot flame when the time rolls around. In the interest of helping you out, Rachel, Aja, Kaitlyn, and Carmen (and her gal pal Geneva) whipped up some totally kick-ass sauces, drinks, appetizers, and entrees for you that are best enjoyed on picnic benches and on paper plates next to a crackling set of coals. If you’re looking for even more menu ideas, check out these 39 out-of-the-box BBQ recipes.
Grandma Jones’ Bourbon Slush
My mama passed this boozy recipe down to me from her mama and told me it was a big old family secret, so I dutifully guarded it with my life for years, sharing it only with one close friend who was sternly warned to keep her mouth shut: “You swear on your mama and your mama’s mama not to tell a single living soul about this recipe,” to which she replied, “I will swear to keep this a secret on the souls of both my mama and my mama’s mama, as that grandma happens to be my favorite one anyway.”
You can imagine my surprise (or naiveté, perhaps) when just a few weeks ago, Garden & Gun promoted a new Southern cookbook touting my Grandma Jones’ exact secret bourbon slush recipe. So. Rude.
Of course, the reality is that when my grandma was a young woman, this slush and others like it were all the rage. When I started making it I couldn’t leave well enough alone and spent summers tinkering with the recipe, bringing huge batches to the San Francisco Dyke March to everyone’s delight, and it became a tradition. It won a cocktail competition at a party during the first year we moved to Boston. We’d whip up big batches when friends came over, or show up with it on our friends’ front porches.
Because I didn’t make it until I was a newlywed, and so many fantastic memories are associated with it, it almost feels like our marriage’s signature libation. Here it is in its original form, probably from the early 1950s as OJ concentrate wasn’t successful until the late 1940s. Then, I’ll show you my own interpretation of a rightful classic.
These recipes each serve 16–18.
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups strong tea
- 2 cups bourbon
- 1 cup sugar
- One 6-ounce container frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- One 6-ounce container frozen lemon juice concentrate, thawed
- Garnish: Mint sprigs or lemon slices (optional)
Combine the water, tea, bourbon, sugar, orange and lemon juice concentrate in a large container or bowl, and mix until sugar dissolves. Pour into two gallon-size freezer bags. Freeze until an hour before serving. Place the frozen punch in a large bowl and let thaw, breaking up every 15 minutes. When punch is melted, add more ice or water as desired. Serve in punch cups. Garnish, if desired.
- Six to Eight Cups Smith Teamaker Lord Bergamot Blend No. 55 black tea
- One 750-ml Bottle Bulleit bourbon
- One 750-ml Bottle Blood Orange Italian Soda (any brand)
- One Quart Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade
Make it a day before you actually need it, first off. Make the tea (if you want to get extra fancy you can add basil or mint leaves here), but wait for it to cool before mixing all of the above together. Unless you have a giant, sanitized bucket or the mother of all pitchers, you will likely need to batch this, which involves a bit of math, but not terribly meticulous math. Mix to taste with the first batch and adjust from there, adding a little sugar at a time if you must (but I wouldn’t). It may bite at first but that’ll smooth right out in slush form, trust me. Any remnants make up a wild card batch, which is f-u-n.
For freezing, freezer bags are perfect if you’re transferring to another container for serving (punch bowl, pitchers, etc.), and some folks just put a giant container in the freezer (though I can’t imagine what sort) and scoop it out of there as they serve (with this much bourbon things probably won’t freeze to rock hard ice).
You can easily slush-and-go, 8 oz. canning gem jars are perfect. Remember not to fill ‘em all the way up — the water will of course expand as the mixture freezes. For serving, mint or basil garnish is lovely, but not required. Cut straws down to fit for a pretty, thoughtful touch. Feel free to tinker and tweak the recipe to your liking — fresh citrus is always a great idea — and please do responsibly enjoy this rich Jones woman tradition.
Grilled Caesar Salad
by Carmen and Geneva
I’ve eaten so many salads in my time, y’all, but never like this. Now that I’ve grilled a head of lettuce and covered it in vegetarian chicken strips, though, I’ll probably never go back. 5/5 would recommend to a friend.
I’d say serve these cut in half, so this recipe would make side salad for six people.
- Three Heads of Romaine Lettuce
- Three Slices of Bread
- Chicken Strips (Mine Are Veggie Grilled Chicken Strips)
- Parmesan Cheese
- Caesar Dressing
This is an easy one, y’all. You start by tossing the entire heart of romaine, washed and not dripping wet, onto the grill. Go ahead and put a sheet of aluminum foil, open-faced, with the chicken on it over the fire, too.
Someone should toast the bread while this is happening, like in a toaster. When it’s good and crispy, cut it into four strips and then cut those into chunks to your liking. (I like a big crouton, so.) Cover them in a thin layer of olive oil, add salt and pepper, and then put them on a sheet of foil over the flame, too.
Remove the ingredients as they begin to look a bit browned, which probably means lettuce first, croutons second, and chicken third. But hey, you do you. I love burnt things, to be honest. Lay out the hearts in a plate, cover them in the chicken strips, and then sprinkle the croutons over top. Slather on some dressing, throw cheese wildly, and get ready to chown down.
Totally Improvised Potato Salad
by Carmen and Geneva
Geneva has turned me into a potato advocate, like the most passionate potato advocate. And so, we had this massive amount of potatoes and nothing to do with them and I suggested we make a potato salad because, well, potato salad is dank as f*ck and why not. And thus, this entire recipe was borne of our own potato-based intuition. As in, we winged it. We came, we cooked, and trust me, we conquered.
This recipe makes five to six servings.
- Six Potatoes, Cleaned and Quartered (But Not Peeled)
- One Pickle
- Four Eggs
- Half Red Bell Pepper
- One-Fifth Sweet Onion
- Quarter-Cup Spicy Mustard
- Half-Cup Mayonnaise
First, you start by boiling the potatoes. Place them, quartered, into a big ol’ pot and cover them. Let ‘em boil for half an hour on medium heat like that, stirring occasionally and removing them from heat when they get soft. Drain them in a colander.
You’ll also wanna boil your eggs at the same time. My method is to put eggs in still water, toss a dash of salt in that b*tch, and then place them over an open flame uncovered. The water in your chosen pot should cover them by about an inch. When the water begins to boil, cover the pot, lower the heat, and set a timer for ten minutes. When it goes out, remove them from heat, drain them in a colander, and run cold water over them until they’re cool to the touch. Toss them in the fridge until later.
While things are boiling, clean and cut your veggies. Slice and dice the pickle, onion, and bell pepper. When everything else is cut, peel the eggs and quarter them. When the potatoes are done draining, cut them into smaller chunks using a fork and knife (they’ll be hot!) and then, mix all that stuff up in a considerably large bowl.
Using a hard spatula, mix all the ingredients, including the mayonnaise and mustard, in that big bowl. Don’t completely rid the potato salad of the lumps and chunks, but mix well enough that there’s nothing that hasn’t turned yellow.
And then, voila! You’re ready to chow down.
Hot ‘n Tangy and Spiced Blueberry Barbecue Sauces
Everyone knows sweet barbecue. It’s that thick, syrupy, tangy stuff that you can buy at any grocery store, that helped Sweet Baby Ray make his barbecue sauce fortune. It’s been my favorite kind of grilled food topping since I lived smack-dab between Kansas City (where this style was born) and St. Louis (home of its tangier, thinner cousin). You could make the KC sweet style at home and put it on just about anything — it’s ubiquitous for a reason — but if you’re going to the trouble to make your own version of a sauce that you can buy at the store for two dollars, I say you may as well do it big.
So for my first foray into the DIY sauce game, I picked two types that weren’t what I’d normally reach for at a barbecue joint. The first is a blueberry sauce, and despite an off-putting (to me) inky blue color, it was really tasty. Sweet and fruity, but with enough vinegar that it doesn’t go down like a bucket of syrup. My girlfriend, who loves blueberries and frequently puts blueberry barbecue sauce on her burgers, said it was different from other ones she’d tried (“It’s got a kick to it!”) but happily scarfed down her portion. The second, a family recipe I snagged from The Kitchn, was runnier and super tangy, but with enough brown sugar to mellow out the vinegar that usually turns me off to this type of sauce. It was also spicier than I’m used to, but my taste buds came out unscathed!
Blueberry Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:
- Two Cups Fresh Blueberries
- Half-Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- Half-Teaspoon Salt
- Two Tablespoons Red Onion, Roughly Chopped
- Half-Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- Three Tablespoons Ketchup
- Three Tablespoons White Sugar
- Two Cloves Garlic, Roughly Chopped
- Half-Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
- One Teaspoon Chili Powder
Put literally all your ingredients in a small sauce pan. It’s so easy. Stir them together, then set to medium-high heat. Once it comes to a boil, reduce to a medium-low simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally if you, like me, cannot let a pot sit unattended for that long.
Check the consistency of your sauce. The blueberries should have pretty much broken down by now, and the red onion and garlic will be soft. I ended up adding a little extra water because I wanted the onions softer but worried about running out of liquid; feel free to do the same.
Once everything has mushed to your liking, remove the pan from heat and let cool. Pour into a blender or use an immersion blender to liquefy the ingredients. Pour or brush onto your grilled proteins, or use as a dip!
Hot ‘n Tangy Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:
- Three Teaspoons Salt
- Three Teaspoons Dry Mustard
- Three Teaspoons Chili Powder
- Three Teaspoons Paprika
- Half-Cup and One Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
- Six Tablespoons Ketchup
- Six Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
- Three Tablespoons Lemon Juice
- Six Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- Six Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (See Note Below)
- Half-Cup and One Teasoon Water
Put all your dry ingredients in a saucepan. Mix ‘em up with a whisk and blend in the ketchup until it’s all smooth. This supposedly keeps the mustard powder from separating, but I wouldn’t know if that’s true because I forgot to do it. Oops.
When I made this, I added all the wet ingredients in at the measurements listed. However, my end product was pretty oily — I had to cook the sauce for much longer than the recommended time to get a good consistency, and there was a decent layer of oil that just would. not. combine. So I’d recommend starting out with just 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, reserving the other three for if things look too dry during the cooking process.
Add the rest of your wet ingredients, whisk until smooth, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer.
The original recipe says to simmer for about 10 minutes, but as I said, I had a lot longer wait before things started to reduce. Keep an eye on things, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick enough to cling to the back of a spoon. You’ll know it when you see it.
Vegetarian Stuffed (and Grilled) Peppers with an Elote Remix
by Carmen and Geneva
Stuffed peppers have long been my jam, but I’d never grilled them before Geneva and I threw together this recipe. AND WHAT A RECIPE IT IS, Y’ALL. I could probably eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of time until I died and be the happiest little nugget on Earth. On the side, we added a spiced up time-honored BBQ classic by preparing corn as they do in Mexico: slathered in mayo and sour cream and covered in chili powder. It’s a wild ride, y’all.
Stuffed Pepper Ingredients:
- Three Bell Peppers
- One and One-Half Cup Rice (Uncooked)
- One Cup Morningstar Crumbles
- One-Quarter Cup Chopped Onion
- One Carrot, Finely Chopped
- Parmesan Cheese
- Bread Crumbs
Before you can stuff and grill these babies, you’re gonna need to prep the rice. Cook it separately, then combine it in a well-greased frying pan with the onion, carrot, and veggie crumbles. Stir it up real good, spice it to taste, and then turn off the heat when it’s mixed and the veggies look done. Meanwhile, cut the tops off of the peppers, but don’t discard them. Then, gut them and stuff them with the rice and veggie crumbles mixture. Top them off with some parmesan and some bread crumbs, and then put the tops of them back on.
Wrap them up in aluminum foil, fully covering them and preventing them from opening or spilling out. Toss ‘em on the grill for fifteen minutes, turning them as needed, and then unwrap them carefully.
Proceed with caution, as these will be dangerously delicious. (And really hot!)
- Two Ears of Corn, Husked and Washed
- Quarter-Cup Sour Cream
- Eighth-Cup Mayonnaise
- One Lime
- Chili Powder
After you’ve washed the corn, pat it dry and then rub on some olive oil. Add salt and pepper as desired, and then wrap it up in aluminum foil. Cook it on the grill, turning it regularly, for twenty to thirty minutes.
While the corn is over an open flame, chop up some cilantro. Mix together the mayo and sour cream in a bowl and then toss in the cilantro, too. Once your corn is good to go, unwrap it and spread the mix on it while it’s still hot. Season it with chili powder to your own liking and then squeeze some lemon on top before you serve it.
Put out napkins in advance.
The People’s Veggie Burger
I have been blessed, as a vegan, to be invited to many cookouts where friends have graciously provided veggie burger options. Unfortunately, many of those veggie burger options have been kind of lame, ranging from hockey-puck-like frozen storebought patties to loose piles of shredded beets that become essentially a warm salad because the burger chef wasn’t sure how to bind patties without egg. Into this void I would like to respectfully suggest this veggie burger, which is vegan, quick and easy to make, requires no ingredients that would necessitate a trip to a Whole Foods, and conveniently does not contain any tofu or breadcrumbs, which means it is acceptable to persons of a soy-free or gluten-free persuasion. Also it does not contain any black beans or beets, which are ingredients I love but have already eaten so much of in burger variations I can no longer summon enthusiasm for them.
It’s originally from Lukas Volger’s Veggie Burgers Every Which Way, which is an authoritative text on the subject and very worth buying. In the book, they’re called Quinoa, Red Bean and Walnut Burgers. The book recommends glazing it with a Pomegranate-Sesame sauce, which I’m sure would be delicious, but which I have never quite gotten around to trying.
- ½ cup quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
- 1 small potato (4 to 5 ounces), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 bunch scallions, including an inch of the green parts, thinly sliced
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 ½ cups cooked red beans
- ½ cup roughly chopped toasted walnuts
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Juice of ½ lemon
1. Cook your quinoa and potato until they’re both cooked through and soft. If you’re using dried red beans like I was, you’ll need to cook those too (remember that you need to soak them overnight the night before! No cheating on this part!). This is a recipe where canned beans are at least as good to use as dried beans, because that viscous canned bean liquid helps bind things, but dried beans were what I had and they worked great.
2. While your pots are bubbling away, toast your walnuts — you can do this either by putting them in a dry pan on medium-low heat and moving them around so they don’t burn, or you can arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake them at 325-350 for 7-10 minutes. Once they’re toasty, chop them up a bit.
3. Chop up your scallions, parsley and ginger into a relatively fine mince. I always use more scallion and parsley than the recipe calls for because I like fresh herbal things.
4. Once all of your items are cooked, toasted and/or chopped, you can combine them all into a mixing bowl and add the salt and lemon. Use a potato masher to smash everything together thoroughly. The mixture should begin to stick together pretty well right away.
5. Patty time! To make a burger patty, grab enough of the mixture with your clean hands to make a ball about the size of a baseball. (For burger aficionados who are not sports inclined, it should be about the size of a fist.) Next, flatten it gently between your palms and cup it in your hands, using your thumbs to press in the sides of the burger slightly so that they don’t taper out weirdly. You want it to be shaped more like a car tire and less like a flying saucer.
6. You’re ready to apply heat! These burgers are firm enough that I suspect they can be thrown on the grill, although you want to make sure that any grill you use is well oiled so that your burger doesn’t stick and fall apart. I personally prefer to cook these in a pan, at about 5-6 minutes per side over medium heat. Everything in these is already cooked, so you’re not trying to cook them through, just get a nice crispy crust on the outside. If you want to pan-fry them, you don’t have to worry about being left out of the barbecue atmosphere; if you have a stainless steel or cast-iron pan, you can stick that right on top of the grill itself and use that as a heat source.
7. Once your patties are off the grill, it’s all about the condiments.
This burger is definitely hearty enough to handle some classic ketchup/mustard/pickle/relish situations, but I’d encourage you to think outside the box too. Here’s a place to start. I personally like these with a green pureed sauce of some sort, whether it be pesto or chimichurri or something similar. I went bunless, because I knew the burgers themselves would be enough to fill me up, and topped them with eggplant caponata and a vegan riff on the Silver Palate Cookbook’s green sauce.
However you choose to dress your burgers up or down, the most important thing is that you eat them outside, in the sun, with some good friends and a drink of your choice.
Veggie Skewers (w/ Pineapple!)
by Carmen and Geneva
In the midst of burgers and hot dogs, what’s a vegetarian to do at a Babe-B-Q? Well, my friend, I have right here the ultimate answer to that question. I have right here the most heavenly grilled veggie and fruit kabobs you’ve ever put in your goddamn mouth. We made four.
- 4 Button Mushrooms
- One Green Zucchini
- One Tomato
- Half Onion
- Half Fresh Pineapple
- Half Green Bell Pepper
This one’s easy peasy lemon squeezy. You start with your fresh veggies, get ‘em washed and ready, and then start cutting them into slices. You’ll wanna be able to put all these things on a big stick in a hot second, so cut the zucchini width-wise, into circular slices. Cut the tomato into eighths. Cut the pepper into strips and then cut those strips in half. Leave the mushrooms whole. Cut the onion into chunks, slicing large bits away from the center. Dice the pineapple, but into big chunks.
Line up your ingredients on the skewer however you damn well please. Then, spray them with an olive oil spray and season them to your liking. We put chili powder, cumin, pepper, and salt on ours. Be sure to rotate the skewers and season and oil every side. Wrap the skewers in foil, leaving them open on the ends so you can track their progress. Cook them over an open flame or in an oven for 30-40 minutes until brown, rotating them about halfway through.
Then, put each heavenly piece in your mouth one by one.